Let the people pick their Supreme Court

    There is no question high court elections in Wisconsin are the subject of intensifying attention. Like other elections, the candidates or special interest groups are slugging it out on negative 30-second TV and radio ads.

    The Wisconsin State Journal has editorialized about the current judicial election system, calling it a “mess of big money influence, disgraceful TV ads, conflicts of interest, demands for recusals, disciplinary investigations of electoral winners and increasing public distrust of Wisconsin’s judiciary.”

    Pressure is building to strip the voting power of the general public in Supreme Court elections and convert to a system of appointed justices. A state Assemblyman is working on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have the governor nominate a circuit court or appellate judge in Wisconsin with at least eight years of experience to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. Three-fifths of the state Senate, 20 of 33 members, would have to confirm the nominee. At the end of the justice’s 10-year term, voters in a statewide retention election would decide whether the justice remains on the bench.

    I find little merit in this so-called merit system for justices.

    Our country was founded as a Republic and the main foundation was and should continue to be representative government. The people elect their government. People have a basic, fundamental right to be participatory in their government in our great country. I am not thrilled about any notion of taking away that right.

    Passionate citizen participation in government is the driving force that keeps our country strong and free. As government continues its troubling pattern of delegating more and more decisions to government because it is thought that the government will make better choices than the general voting public, we slip further away from the people’s government, and that has serious ramifications for the future.

    The people, especially generations to follow become less aware of the actions of government. People become more and more reliant upon government to make decisions for them that they had made for themselves in the past. People’s government awareness, decision-making, critical thinking, and voting responsibilities literally disappear.

    The success of our government is the result of many bloody fights on many battlefields. I have a tremendous amount of respect and reverence for those that fought those bloody battles. The importance of the bloody battles in preserving our great country, still the best country in the world, far outweighs the importance of the petty bickering battles we read about in the media over Wisconsin Supreme Court elections.

    Government should run plentiful honest elections, and do whatever is necessary to assure the public that their elections are clean and fair. Clean and fair elections mean the old adage of one man, one vote. Clean and fair elections do not mean stifling free speech. Clean and fair elections do not mean this game of government creating rules it believes control the fairness.

    The more people are involved in their government, the better decision making the people will get from the government. That can not happen with people’s voting privileges stripped away.

    Assuredly the controversy surrounding the Wisconsin Supreme Court is causing people to sit up and pay attention. Would it be better that the high court be one big happy family we hear nothing about? Would it be better that the justices are all of one stripe and are mired in groupthink?

    The controversy forces the justices to toil with difficult thought and present the public with their judicial philosophy, and the media then has something to stir up into controversy.
    I say let the people vote. Do not eliminate that right. Let the noisy elections and public vetting be thorough and plentiful!


    State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents Wisconsin’s 28th Senate District.

    Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

    Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

    No posts to display